Friday, November 29, 2013

2H2K - May 2050 - JailbiRd

Eastern State Penitentiary (1829-1971) via Wikipedia
[This is the fifth short story in a series, the 1st story is here, the 2nd is here, the 3rd is here, the 4th here.] 
The subway car was packed with campers heading for a day beach. The kids were rowdy, moving back and forth, yelling at one another in their excitement. Dean had gotten a seat at the end of the row closest to the door. This meant his back was against the side of the subway car, which was fine. But it also meant the the two boys to his right, whose seats were facing the back of the car, were crowding him with their knees. The boys were playing some sort of game that had them both slouched, jerking unpredictably, and waving their hands almost constantly.

2H2K - May 2050 - Decayed Roués Robots: An Introduction

Lumpenproletariat according to Akira Kurosawa and The Economist
Years ago I went with a group of mostly french friends to see a performance of Charles Aznavour, a French crooner of Armenian extraction who is best described as the French Frank Sinatra. One of the guys with us that night was from the Armenian consulate and when Aznavour announced he was going to sing about his homeland, our Armenian friend stood and with the other Armenians in the audience, went wild. Not to be out done, when Aznavour introduced a song about Paris my expat Parisian friend, and the other displaced Parisians filling the hall, stood and sent up a great cheer. A little while later Aznavour explained that his next song was about "the love that dare not speak its name" - and a gay couple in our row stood and loudly cheered. Everyone smiled. Finally Aznavour announced that he would sing his song La Bohème about struggling artists, and I stood, all alone and cheered. My friends, the gay guys, and everyone around us looked at me like I was a little nuts. Which was just about right. We have always been a marginal group at best, but as we look forward to the "end of work" - or as it is more recently been dubbed, "the end of jobs" - the Bohème may become a force for change - not as a heroic avant-guard leading the Proletariat to violent revolution against their Capitalist overlords, but something more akin to the growth of the Petite Bourgeoisie consumer class - aka the middle class - during the Post War years.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Ideas Need Tall Buildings: Gentrification vs Integration - Flying Wedges vs Rooted Anchors

Alfredo Brillembourg presenting Torre David at this year's CTsummit

Last week I wrote a post for ArtFCity titled "A Look at The Creative Time Summit: Gentrification, Gentrification, and Gentrification." I was asked to do something relatively short and straightforward but managed to write myself into a corner, turning the post into something long, difficult, even a little scary. "Gentrification" is an umbrella term that covers a constellation of assumptions and biases - the great majority of which I find wrong-headed and vexing. According to Wikipedia, the term "gentrification" was coined by the British sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964. That it is a derivative of "gentry," itself, clearly signals that ownership was core to its original meaning. It was used by Glass to refer to the threat posed to lower-class worker residents, who depended on public housing, by the then fast-growing middle-class residents who, increasingly, could afford to own housing. Gentrification names a brand of class conflict, not an invasion of a bourgeois horde. But not surprisingly Americans have ever used the word gentrification the way the Brits originally intended. In the US race has always been a stand in for class. So US speakers use "gentrification" as a coded way to say "white people" much the same way they use "urban" as a coded way to speak of "black people." And like all coded language, the term "gentrification" obscures and disguises more than in communicates.